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U.S. Third Fleet

Public Affairs Office

Press Release

Commander J.C. Yost

JOC(AW) Deborah Carson

(619) 524-9562 or e-mail: c3fpao@coronado.navy.mil

Public Affairs Office

Code J00P

U.S. Third Fleet

FPO AP 96601-6001

October 28, 2002


USS Constellation Carrier Battle Group

set to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom

San Diego, Ca. - In one week, more than 8,000 Pacific Fleet Sailors will deploy for a six-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in the North Arabian Sea. Naval forces of the USS Constellation Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) will depart San Diego on November 2nd.

The Constellation Battle Group, based in San Diego, will deploy with the following San Diego-based ships: the cruisers USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) and USS Valley Forge (CG 50); destroyers USS Higgins (DDG 76) and USS Milius (DDG 69) and the frigate USS Thach (FFG 43). Other units include the fast attack submarine USS Columbia (SSN 771), based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the fast combat support ship USS Rainier (AOE 7), based in Bremerton Wash.

The crew of the San Diego-based destroyer USS Kinkaid (DD 965) will participate in the Navy's innovative Sea Swap program - they join the Constellation Battle Group, but their ship won't. In coming months, Kinkaid's crew will decommission their ship in San Diego and then fly overseas to swap out with the crew aboard the destroyer USS Fletcher (DD992), currently deployed with the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group in the Arabian Gulf. Fletcher's crew will fly home, while their ship - now manned with Kinkaid's crew old crew - will join up with the recently arrived Constellation Battle group.

Sea Swap allows crews to spend more of their six-month deployment on station and less time in transit.

Another ship in the Constellation Battle Group, USS Milius, will be the first guided-missile destroyer to deploy overseas under the Optimal Manning program. Milius will deploy with a crew of 233 enlisted Sailors, a 19 percent reduction in the original manning for that ship. The reduction in the ship's manning has been made possible by automating several systems and installing do-it-yourself services such as laundry.

The Battle Group's preparations for deployment included a Pacific Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) off the coast of Southern California from October 17-29. The exercise tested the force's ability to respond to operational scenarios they might encounter during the deployment, which will be the 21st deployment for the 41-year old Constellation.

USS Constellation, a Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier, displaces nearly 88,000 tons, Constellation is home to more than 5,500 Sailors. It carries approximately 75 combat support and support aircraft. From its 4.5 acre flight deck, it can quickly launch and recover the world's most modern military aircraft that operate with other elements of the U.S. armed forces as well as those of allied nations.


Notice to media:

USS Constellation will be departing Naval Air Station North Island, Nov. 2 at 0900. Rear Adm. Barry Costello, Commander, Destroyer Group One, and Capt. John W. Miller, Commanding Officer of USS Constellation, will be available for questions at 0745. Media interested in covering the USS Constellation departure should call AIRPAC Public Affairs at (619) 545-1133. Due to security requirements, 24-hrs notice is required for access of satellite trucks.

USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Valley Forge (CG 50), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Thach (FFG 43) and USS Higgins (DDG 76) will be departing from Naval Station 32nd St. on the morning of Nov. 2. Media covering departure need to be at Pass and ID at approximately 8 a.m.

Please call LT Charlie Brown at (619) 437-2737 at Naval Surface Force Public Affairs to confirm time.

USS Columbia (SSN 771) will depart from Naval Station Pearl Harbor. Media wishing for additional information regarding Columbia's departure, call CDR Kelly Merrell at (808) 473-0911 at Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs.

USS Rainier (AOE 7) will depart from Naval Magazine Indian Island on Nov 2 about 0900.

Media interested in covering her departure should contact JOC Joe Staker at 360-981-7574 or Mr. Rick Huling at 206-220-6530.


USS Constellation Carrier Battlegroup

Constellation Battle Group Commander

Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group One Naval Air Station North Island,

Rear Adm. Barry Costello San Diego, CA

Commander, Destroyer Squadron 7 Naval Station San Diego CA

Captain Mark Balmert

Commander Carrier Air Wing Two Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA

Captain Mark I. Fox

Aircraft Carrier

USS Constellation (CV 64) Naval Air Station North Island

Captain John W. Miller San Diego, CA

Guided Missile Cruiser

USS Valley Forge (CG 50) Naval Station San Diego, CA

Commander Patrick C. Rabun.


Guided Missile Cruiser

USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) Naval Station San Diego, CA

Captain Faris T. Farwell


Guided Missile Destroyer

USS Higgins (DDG 76) Naval Station San Diego, CA

Commander Michael M. Gilday

Guided Missile Destroyer

USS Kinkaid (DD 965) Naval Station San Diego, CA

Commander Kim A. Parker


Guided Missile Destroyer

USS Milius (DDG 69) Naval Station San Diego, CA

Commander Jeffrey A. Harley

Guided Missile Frigate

USS Thach (FFG 43) Naval Station San Diego, CA

Commander William A. Sheehan

HSL 43 Detachment 2

Attack Submarine Naval Station Pearl Harbor, HI

USS Columbia (SSN 771)

Commander Duane R. Ashton

Fleet Oiler/Ammunition Ship Naval Station Bremerton, WA

USS Rainier (AOE 7)

Captain P. Clay Pinson

Fighter Squadron 2 Naval Air Station Oceana

(VF-2 Bounty Hunters) Virginia Beach, VA

CDR Andrew Whitson

Strike-Fighter Squadron 151 Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA

(VFA-151 Vigilantes)

Commander Mark Hubbard

Strike-Fighter Squadron 137 Naval Air Station Lemoore, CA

(VFA-137 Kestrels)

Commander David Dober

Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 323 Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, CA

(VMFA-323 Death Rattlers)

Lieutenant Colonel Gary Thomas

Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 131 Naval Air Station

(VAQ-131 Lancers) Whidbey Island, WA

Commander John Lockler

Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116 Naval Air Station Point Mugu, CA

(VAW-116 Sun Kings)

Commander Kevin Andersen

Sea Control Squadron 38 Naval Air Station North Island,

(VS-38 Red Griffins) San Diego, CA

Commander William J. Hart

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 2 Naval Air Station North Island,

(HS-2 Golden Falcons) San Diego, CA

Commander Stephen J. Vissers

Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 Detachment 2 Naval Air Station North Island,

(VRC-30 Det. 2 Providers) San Diego, CA

Officer in Charge: LCDR Jeff Alves


Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 43 Naval Air Station North Island, CA

Detachment 2

(HSL-43 Battle Cats)

Officer in Charge: LCDR Kurt Merkling

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45 Naval Air Station North Island, CA

Detachments 5 and 6

(HSL-45 Wolf Pack)

Det 5 Officer in Charge: LCDR Richard O'Connell

Det 6 Officer in Charge: LCDR Jon Lazar

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 47 Naval Air Station North Island, CA

Detachment 4

(HSL-47 Sabrehawks)

Officer in Charge: LCDR Sean Malone

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 49 Naval Air Station North Island, CA

Detachment 5

(HSL-49 Scorpions)

Officer in Charge: LCDR Scott Walsh

U. S. Navy web site: http://www.navy.mil

U.S. Air Forces Pacific web site: http://www.airpac.navy.mil

U.S. Surface Forces Pacific web site: http://www.surfpac.navy.mil

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